| Siti Hajar |
THE dawn of Brunei Darussalam’s 31st National Day brought thousands of spectators to Bandar Seri Begawan to take part in another historic occasion.
People from all walks of life showed what it meant to be patriotic as 25,000 marched and performed at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, the focal point of the celebration.
For two hours, they braved the tropical heat, while His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stood tall to witness the unity of not just locals but also foreign nationals who participated alongside Bruneians to celebrate over three decades of independence with this year’s theme ‘Generation with a Vision’.
Yesterday’s royal presence included His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik, His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel and Her Royal Highness Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah.
The morning officially began with the arrival of His Majesty whose royal entourage was greeted by hundreds of schoolchildren who lined the streets leading to the field.
They enthusiastically waved miniature national flags accompanied by the sound of ‘Hadrah’ and the national anthem that echoed across the capital to emphasise the tradition of Brunei’s Malay Islamic Monarchy identity.
Following the inspection of a guard of honour, the mass procession kicked off with the giant flag-bearers leading hundreds of contingents representing schools, the government and private sectors, security agencies and non-government organisations.
The field quickly filled with the colours of the country as the participants held their heads high as they marched past the Royal Dais and other guests, including foreign dignitaries.
In a show of discipline, the participants of the National Service Programme (PKBN) demonstrated their strength and grit by performing a drill to the awe of spectators.
A highlight of the celebration saw a group of specially selected men and women standing before His Majesty to lead the reading of the National Day oath, in which they pledged their loyalty and allegiance to the monarch, country and government, which was followed by the resounding “Allahu Akbar” that resonated thrice through the crowd.
And finally, a few hundred students capped the event with a performance aptly dedicated to celebrating a ‘Generation with a Vision’.